Thursday, July 28, 2011

Kenosha Pass to Breckenridge

Ean and I have been talking for a while about how fun it would be to have a Fort Collins Trail Runner camping trip and run and after my trip on the CT last summer, I thought running part of the trail would be a great group run adventure.  Last month, Ean and I looked at the calendar, found a good date, decided on Segment 6 of the CT and sent out an email to the group:

Kenosha Pass to Breckenridge Trail Run

Ean and I are planning to make this happen on July 26.  The plan is to drive to Kenosha Pass on Monday July 25 and camp at the trailhead that night.  On Tuesday July 26, we'll break camp and I, along with anyone that wants to join me, will run segment 6 of the Colorado Trail from Kenosha, over Georgia Pass and down to the Goldhill trailhead in Breckenridge.  This is a 33 mile stretch with about 4500 feet of elevation gain and a lot of beautiful trail.  Meanwhile, Ean will drive to Breckenridge with anyone who would like to join her, park at the trailhead and run back to meet us.  We'll all regroup at the trailhead Tueday afternoon, get something to eat, and then head home.  Let me know if you're interested in joining us for this trip and we can start to work out details.  Nothing like summer on the trails in Colorado.

I immediately got several replies from interested runners.  This is one of the things I love about the group of people I am so privileged to run with - there are always people ready for some great adventure big or small.  Last week a few more wonderful people signed on to join the fun and on Monday afternoon we headed out to Kenosha Pass.

When Ean, Mary, Brian S. and I got to the campground, Brian W. and family, Celeste (fresh off 150+ miles of the Courage Classic Bike Tour) and Mindy (straight from running, road riding and mtn. biking all weekend) were already there.  The campground was pretty quiet (a benefit of camping on a Monday), it was cool and cloudy (a great relief after a week of 95+ degree weather in Fort Collins) and the air was filled with the delicious piny smell of the mountains.  After setting up our tent, we all went out for a short pre dinner walk back along Segment 5 of the CT, admired the wild flowers and read some of the railroad and mining history of the area.

photo by Mindy
We all enjoyed a camp dinner of pasta, fajitas, beer and s'mores around the campfire then headed off to sleep. 

We started out the day Tuesday with coffee and a healthy breakfast and hit the trail,
Pop Tarts (actually I think Mary is eating a banana)

photo by Ean
The run was beautiful and challenging.  The trail was in great shape and the CT markers are frequent enough to prevent getting lost.  The weather really couldn't have been better.  There were high clouds all day and just a bit of light rain.  The temps probably stayed in the 60's and maybe dipped down to 50 on the top of Georgia Pass.  I felt pretty good on the 6 mile, 2000' vertical feet climb up to the pass and Brian S. (who was celebrating his 29th birthday) and I kept up a pretty steady pace.  We made it to the top (about 12 miles in and an altitude of nearly 12,000 feet) in under two and half hours and stopped for a bit to enjoy the view.

Brian S. on the final approach to Georgia Pas

Taking in the view
After the pass, we had nearly 5 miles of nice downhill on sweeping switchbacks down to the Swan River.  There was a minor trail reroute here due to some major beetle kill logging but it was not a problem.  At mile 20 we hit the second and final big climb of the day.  It was over 1000' in under two miles so Brian and I opted to hike most of it.  It rained a bit as we ran along the top of the ridge.  I stopped and ate half my PB&J and thought about the final 13 miles into Breckenridge, glad that it was mostly downhill.  The next few miles were more sweeping downhill switchbacks and we moved along here pretty well despite having tired legs.  Brian and I were both running pretty low on water at this point having skipped past the last stream at the bottom of the climb, but we figured we could make it another couple miles and hoped to where we hoped we would find some water.  Thank goodness the day remained cool.

By mile 24-25 I was hoping/expecting to run into Ean and Mindy who had taken down the camp at Kenosha and driven around to the trailhead in Breck. and were running back to meet up with the rest of us.  Right around mile 26 there was Ean, running, skipping, practically flying down the trail towards us with a big smile and Mindy right behind. They gave us some water and the good news that we only had 6 miles to go and they gave me a quiet heads up to look for a green bag in a tree a couple miles up.  

I kept my eyes peeled and sure enough, right at mile 29, there was a bag hanging in the tree left by trail fairies for the birthday boy.  There was a pinwheel (which Ean later told me that she and Mindy had taken turns carrying because "it was just so fun") a carrot cake Cliff Bar (Brian had said carrot when asked earlier what kind of cake he would like) and a whole load of Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies.  We each ate a cream pie, filled our water at the nearby creek (the first water we'd seen in 9 miles) and headed out on the final 3 miles.

The trail ends with another steep switch-backed downhill that drops in to the Tiger Run RV resort and then crosses CO-9 onto the bike path and then in to the Goldhill Trailhead.

Brian S. and I thought the run would take us about 6 hours and Mary, Celeste and Brian W. thought they would take about 8 hours.  The altitude and the climbing (nearly 5000 feet of vertical) not to mention the miles (33 of them) took its toll on all of us and Brian and I took just over 7 hours and the rest of the crew came in a bit over 9 hours.  

Ean and Mindy ran a bit over 20 miles making this Ean's longest run ever.  It was a tough day, but everyone had a great time enjoying the scenery, the trails and the good company.  After we all regrouped at the trailhead, we drove up the road to Frisco and sat down to a celebratory meal at the Backcountry Brewery for some good food, good beer and lots of laughs.  It was a perfect day and we are already talking about the next FCTR camping, running adventure.  Whose up for a trip to the Grand Canyon in October?  But first there's 24 HoT and Pb-ville.

Brian looking very much alive as he crosses Deadman Creek
Ean and Celeste singing/running down the trail

Mary, Celeste and Brian

Loving life on her longest run ever!

1 comment:

  1. I would love to cover that whole trail some day in speed hike/run, "slack pack" fashion. Still would take a long time though. 10 laps at 24HoT?